FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Norman Jewison |||
Norman Jewison

Yes, he directed “Moonstruck” and two unforgettable musicals, but Jewison is also responsible for a trilogy of films focusing on racial-injustice, a whacky Cold War comedy and a signature film of Steve McQueen’s showing that he is one of the most versatile directors since Robert Wise.

This blueprint for good investigation dramas tells the story of a black Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in Mississippi who matches wits with a redneck sheriff. Groundbreaking for it’s time, this Oscar winning film is still relevant today and offers a gripping mystery with terrific dramatic performances by a complete cast of fully realized characters.

This is an amazingly funny and entertaining irreverent "Cold War" comedy about a Russian submarine stranded outside an isolated New England town, which throws the locals into a panic. Jewison does a delightful job of utilizing his all-star cast to their fullest, deftly mixing Capra-esq characters with Mel Brooks’s type situations (and vise-versa).

A bored millionaire (Steve McQueen in his prime) masterminds a flawless bank job as Faye Dunaway (an insurance investigator out to get him) identifies him as the mastermind and falls in love along the way. This is the original and the best, with all the arch stylized movie techniques of the ‘60s (including split-screen and fuzzy shallow focus) and the most erotic chess game ever captured on screen.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Eastwood's "Torino" might be dirty, but it ain't Harry

By EdwardHavens

March 20th, 2008

It's almost like a webisode of the new E! series "Pop Fiction." Give out just a tantalizing bit of information and just see where everyone takes it. A Dirty Harry movie? A western? Nothing's come close yet, according to our source.

Eastwood's

Let's start logically, and not just because what little information we've been able to dig up would barely fill up a thimble...

1) A new Dirty Harry movie? Not likely. The hot rumor is that a killer is riding around in a Gran Torino, and the now-retired Harry Callahan is on a mission to track down the culprit, as one of the victims was Callahan's cop grandson. What do we know about Dirty Harry Callahan? We know that Harry was once married, but she was killed by a drunk driver, and never once in the five films in the series was there ever a mention of a child. So, all of a sudden, Harry not only has a child he's never once mentioned before, but this child is old enough to a child of their own, who is himself old enough to have become a police officer? Sorry, don't buy it. Plus, if this was a Dirty Harry movie, you don't release it in December anymore. You hold it until the summer months, when action films have a better play-off. December is now reserved for more family-friendly fare, straight dramas or awards bait films. More on that in a minute.

2) What is a Gran Torino? In Italian, "Gran Torino" means "The Grand Turin," the city in Northern Italy which is considered the Detroit of Italy. Turin is also the home of the Mole Antonelliana, which now houses the Italian National Museum of Film and was greatly featured in Davide Ferrario's beautiful 2004 homage to cinema, After Midnight. But in car culture, the Gran Torino is the muscle car built by Ford Motor between 1972 and 1976, best known as the car by officer David Starsky in the 1970s ABC series "Starsky and Hutch" as well as its 2004 movie adaptation. Hell, I can't think of any way to spin this into it being a Western.

So if it's not a Dirty Harry movie, and it's not a western, just what the heck is "Gran Torino" anyway?

Our source tells us this will be a simple, quiet and compelling drama about Walt (Eastwood), a rural bigot who finds his outlook on life changed after a family of Hmong immigrants move in to the home next to his own, striking up a friendship with the family's teenaged son Tao over the older man's now-classic car.

Now, doesn't that sound more like something a studio would hinge its awards hopes on?

I could continue to prattle on about this and that, but that's really all we've been able to get right now. If there is any good to come out of the wild speculation about this being the next Dirty Harry movie, it shows there is still a major interest in any new Eastwood film. And seriously, if the studio and production companies are going to be so damn careful to try and keep the project as close to the vest as possible, is someone who is at best a property manager really going to blab major plot points to someone selling a car that isn't even the car they're looking for? No. I've worked in production, and if the production is specifically looking for a 1972 Gran Torino, they're not going to waste their time looking at cars that aren't a 1972 Gran Torino. The 72's had a more rounded body, compared to the straighter lines on the 74's. Car enthusiasts are going to know the difference, and if the script is specific about the year of the car, it probably has some significance to the storyline.

How the release of "Gran Torino" will affect the currently-set November release of Eastwood's courthouse drama "Changeling" for Universal (one of their expected high rollers for 2008 awards glory) is uncertain. All that can be certain for now is the race for 2008's Best Picture just got itself a new 800 pound gorilla.